There is a state of man’s existence which demands a fundamental and thorough rethink of reasons why the back-breaking struggle for mere survival becomes a losing battle with no end in sight for many. Battle for the right to live another day is becoming so unbearable for many of our kith and kin resident at ground zero; not due to the curse of the gods, but simply because we, as a people, have reneged on our obligation to respect, fully understand and work in harmony with the very forces on which our livelihood depends. And we pay a heavy price for our folly each day we continue to wallow down this disastrous path that invariably leads us all to self-destruction.
The land bequeathed to us by our ancestors is endowed with beauty and bountiful wealth. But our generation, rather than cherish, manage and protect it as we ought to, has brought it to the brink of total ruination due to our foolishness and deliberate irreverent acts. Like the proverbial dog, our generation has opted to defecate on the very spot where we receive our daily meal rations. We no longer hold our ancestral land with the reverence that has been accorded to it since antiquity. In our mad chase of an elusive new way of doing things, we readily defile and desecrate the spiritual essence of the land without which we cannot survive and prosper today and in the future.
The land we inherited from our forebears was at peace and in balance with nature. Carefully preserved forests and woodlands, clean freshwater sources from springs, streams, rivers and lakes as well the rich wetlands and tidal planes provided balance to the living space that our ancestors inhabited for millennia. Our generation has been on a self-nihilistic crusade to strip bare our virgin forests and woodlands through practices that ultimately retard instead of advance the socioeconomic well being of our people. Clean freshwater sources at ground zero are vanishing fast; springs and streams are being buried with silt while rivers and lakes are clogged with debris and heavily polluted with human waste. Even the usually safe underground water sources are now being contaminated with petrochemicals and other toxic agents in many parts of ground zero.
The environment in which ground zero residents must survive today is marred by widespread degradation and decay everywhere one looks. Inhabitants of our urban centers live side-by-side with mountains of trash/garbage dumps in commercial and residential neighborhoods. Wild animals and pests, which can cause harm to humans, roam freely and multiply in very large numbers while feeding off these mountains of refuse. Poorly constructed and ill-maintained drainage systems in urban settlements result in collection of liquid waste in street potholes, open gutters and low-lying open spaces thereby providing very conducive breeding grounds for disease-carrying microorganisms, house flies and malaria-bearing mosquitoes. On the average, morbidity and mortality rates are highest amongst inner city dwellers of ground zero when compared with other segments of the country’s population.
Rural ground zero residents are under constant terror of deleterious consequences of uncontrolled storm water discharge which erode the foundations of buildings, undermine and break up the road network, wash away the topsoil in farmlands and excavate huge erosion gullies. There are frequent reports of fatalities due to sudden landslides caused by rapid erosion gully expansion after heavy downpours. Homesteads, livestock, farmlands, economic trees etc are swallowed whole regularly by these monstrous gullies that are estimated to number, at least, 2,500 in five states of Southeast Nigeria. Frequently, the only road link to a community is severed by an advancing erosion gully thereby disconnecting large numbers of local residents from rest of civilization.
In a chaotic setting where the citizens’ living space is left at the mercy of unmitigated degradation and decay, the worst afflicted are often the most impoverished residents at the grassroots. Morbidity and mortality rates are highest within this group because they can least afford the extra cost required to avoid exposure to disease and to treat themselves when infected. Squalid environmental conditions go hand-in-hand with material poverty, unemployment, insecurity and pervasive sense of hopelessness and powerlessness amongst this segment of the population. Humans tend to behave in a manner that parallels the surroundings of their places of habitation. Under the prevailing circumstances, therefore, a vicious cycle develops where the downtrodden actually become major contributors to the very negative forces that torment their daily lives. The challenge of the Green Movement is to derive and implement well though-out agenda and programs with which to permanently break and annihilate this vicious cycle that has gripped grassroots residents of ground zero in this era.
Four Major Pillars of the Green Movement
The four principles that drive the Green Movement ideology are:
- Respect and reverence for our ancestral land in all its connotations.
- Protection and conservation of our natural ecosystems.
- Proper husbandry of our collective living space.
- Socioeconomic and political empowerment of the grassroots.
The Green Movement is not a political party nor is it an organization. It is instead an ideology which is predicated on mobilization of all necessary human and material resources at ground zero, especially at grassroots level, for the primary objective of restoring the sanctity and integrity of our ancestral land through judicious management of our living space and its natural ecosystems. The movement is primed to sharpen the innate instincts of proud indigenes of ground zero to respond patriotically and appropriately through any instrumentality or organ of their choice in defense of our ancestral home base which shall certainly continue to dither at the brink of total ruination if nothing is done immediately to remedy the untenable situation.
As in all struggles for preservation of what is dear to a people, the youthful at heart are the ones who are best disposed to man the movement’s frontline with all the zeal, energy and commitment that they can muster. The youths are the ones who shall suffer most if the unacceptable status quo is allowed to continue unchecked. The older generation has failed woefully to do the right thing; therefore, the new breed must now step up to rectify the situation. The burden of spearheading the Green Movement shall be borne primarily on the shoulders of millions of youths in college campuses as well as those who operate public transportation services or work as apprentices, laborers and artisans in all the villages, towns and cities of ground zero. The intellectual and political elite cadre must embrace this movement and help to transform it into the engine for public enlightenment, mobilization and socioeconomic empowerment for our people. Political formations at ground zero shall, sooner or later, find it impossible to gain any traction at the grassroots unless they begin to show visible and quantifiable commitment to crucial tenets of the movement’s Igbocentric ideology.
Even though it shares close interests with WIEF, Osondu Foundation, APN, CADPRE and other like Afrocentric groups, the Green Movement belongs to no single entity or individual; it is a universal instrument which belongs to all authentic warriors who are single-mindedly committed to an internally driven collective self-redemptive struggle of our people in this era of great challenge and uncertainty.
Green Movement’s enduring power depends on how its ideological principles become inculcated within grassroots population who must be the real-time foot soldiers and also the key beneficiaries of spinoff of this endeavor. The problems which result in environmental degradation and decay, such as unchecked storm-water runoff, improper disposal of liquid and solid waste, indiscriminate tree cutting and deforestation, for example, originate from neighborhoods inhabited by regular folks in villages, towns and cities across ground zero. The grassroots are the ones whose farmlands, on which their daily sustenance depends, get swallowed by advancing erosion gullies. They also are the ones who get cut off from civilization when the only road link to their village is permanently severed by erosion gullies. A true test of the ability to get a handle on our complex environmental dilemma, therefore, must be predicated upon achieving a high buy-in rate for the Green Movement ideology by regular citizens at the grassroots.
The greatest dividend of the Green Movement is generation of millions of environmental conservation and maintenance jobs amongst the masses of the unemployed or underemployed at the grassroots. At present, there is a lot of work to do to clean up and maintain our collective living space at ground zero, but yet millions of our folks are idle and without reliable sources of income and thus do live an impoverished existence. Mobilizing millions of people from villages, towns and cities to become the paid workforce with which to check storm water at source by construction of catchment pits, drainage channels, retention walls, dykes, dams and ponds shall create lots of regular employment where it is needed most. Promotion of plant nursery business in many communities shall provide gainful employment and also the impetus for aggressive tree-planting and forestation campaigns which are key ingredients for restoration of integrity and balance in damaged ecosystems across the land.
Socioeconomic empowerment of grassroots population shall go a long way in making this vital segment a real-time partner in the development and thus the governance of ground zero. This movement is the best, surest and quickest means of extending the dividends of democratic governance to the greatest number at the least possible cost.